Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The different types of Matzot (part 1 of 3)

Matza is a special unleavened bread, made of a flat dough. The dough is prepared with flour and water and without yeast. The flour must come from one of the following five grains: wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt. The whole process from the time the flour gets in contact with water until the Matza is baked should take less than 18 minutes.

There are different types of Matzot which according to different traditions and possibilities one might use for Pesach.

In the coming days we will learn the differences between 1. Regular Matza and Matza shemura, 2. Hand-made Matza and machine-made Matza and 3. Regular Matza and egg Matza (or Matza 'ashira). 

Let us begin with regular Matza and Matza Shemura. 

The difference between these two Matzot is the type of supervision (shemira) they have.

Regular Matza: Regular Matza is supervised from the moment of mixing the flour with water. Before that, one also needs to make sure the flour was kept in a dry place (humidity can make the flour Chametz!), that the water was at room temperature (warmer water will accelerate the process of fermentation!), etc.

Matza Shemura: In addition to all the regulations of regular Matza, the grain is meticulously supervised and protected from humidity from the time of harvesting, all throughout the process of making the flour up to the baking of the actual Matzot. 

We use Matza shemura during the first two nights of Pesach, when we say the Berakha 'al akhilat Matza. Having Matza Shemura is a practice which everyone who can afford it (the price of Matza shemura is significantly higher than regular Matza!) should follow in attention to a special Biblical instruction (ushmartem et hamatzot). During the rest of the Holiday there is no need to use Matza shemura because, technically, during chol haMo'ed and the last two days of Pesach there is no obligation to eat Matza but only to refrain from eating Chametz.

Making Hand made Matza Shemura